Gov. Dayton appoints the first Minnesota Somali woman to serve on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee


Saciido Shaie has long had a dream that her thoughts and actions would one day become a reason for Minnesota youth to excel in education and life. That’s why she’s spent many years of leadership and advocacy in building a better place for Twin Cities’ young minorities.

Minnesota took a note of her passion in activism, and so did Governor Mark Dayton. He appointed her last June as the first Somali woman to serve on the Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee for Minneapolis.

“It’s an honor for me to think about the issues that are going on,” said Shaie. “And I’ve first-hand experience on juvenile justice and juvenile justice issues.”

That same reason led Chair of Minnesota Juvenile Justice System Advisory Committee Richard Gardell to encourage her to apply for a membership position on the committee.

“It was easy to support Saciido’s application to become part of the Juvenile Justice Advisor Committee,” Gardell said. “If you meet her for four or five minutes, you’ll be impressed with her energy. She’s got an amazing attitude toward life that says, let’s get some things done; let’s do some work together.”

Some of her duties will include working with the Governor and the Legislature about issues related to the state’s juvenile justice system. She’ll also put together a three-year plan to meet the demanding needs of the youth.

She is among five members appointed recently. She’s expected to bring a unique perspective to the committee.

“She can bring to them the perspective of youth,” Gardell said. “She can bring to them the perspective of someone who’s new to America, she can bring to them the perspective of what it feels like to be a person of color, trying to succeed in our community today.”

Shaie isn’t a stranger to the plight of the youth she hopes to help. She arrived in the U. S. when she was eight years old. She was placed in a classroom full of English speakers. She did not understand a word they spoke.

She struggled in school, but survived. Many of her peers couldn’t make it; instead they ended up in criminal and violent activities, leading them to imprisonment.

“When they get out of jail, they don’t have places to go,” Shaie said. “So, it’s clear that they’re going to go back to the same place because the issues that put them there are still there.”

As a member on the committee, Shaie says she’ll dedicate her time and energy to solving those problems and establishing a supportive community and places juveniles can call home.

Shaie’s term ends in 2016.

Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation.